RobotRunAmok writes: Home to 700 authors and estates, from Philip Roth to John Updike, Jorge Luis Borges and Saul Bellow, the Wylie Agency shocked the publishing world yesterday when it announced the launch of Odyssey Editions. The new initiative is selling ebook editions of modern classics, including Lolita, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Updike's Rabbit tetralogy, exclusively via Amazon.com's Kindle store, leaving conventional publishers out of the picture. The issue boils down to who holds digital rights in older titles published before the advent of ebooks, with publishers arguing that the ebook rights belong to them, and authors and agents responding that, if not specifically granted, the digital rights remain with the author. Publishers and authors are also at loggerheads over the royalty that should be paid for ebooks: authors believe they should be getting up to double the current standard rate of 25%, because ebooks are cheaper to produce than physical editions.
RobotRunAmok writes: In a groundbreaking decision that some say will usher in a new era of clean energy, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today he was approving the nation's first offshore wind farm, the controversial Cape Wind project off of Cape Cod. The project has undergone years of environmental review and political maneuvering, including opposition from the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whose home overlooks Nantucket Sound, and from Wampanoag Indian tribes who complained that the 130 turbines, which would stand more than 400 feet above the ocean surface, would disturb spiritual sun greetings and possibly ancestral artifacts and burial grounds on the seabed. But George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, hailed the decision, saying it was "a critical step toward ending our reliance on foreign oil and achieving energy independence. "
RobotRunAmok writes: Wendy Davis, in Online Media Daily, is reporting that the New York City Police Department announced Tuesday that bloggers and others who publish on the Web will now be eligible for press credentials. The move comes as a result of a lawsuit filed in 2008 by three Web journalists who were denied press passes. In New York, journalists with press passes are typically allowed to cross police barricades at public events.
RobotRunAmok writes: Ryan Tate, at Gawker, describes the "heated turf war" waging at the New York Times. The print and digital divisions have differing views over how much a subscription to the Gray Lady (iPad edition) should cost. The print troops believe $20-$30 monthly is the proper price point (fearing that setting the mark any lower will jeopardize print distribution), while the digital soldiers are digging in their heels at $10 a month. The Kindle version is already managed by the Print Army, so don't count on logic necessarily driving any decisions here. It's complicated: the Web version of the paper is still free through 2011, and the computer "Times Reader" has already been released and priced at $14.95 monthly.
RobotRunAmok writes: Whether or not our media tastes run with the trendy crowd or not, we all tend to be aware of how "popular" or "highly rated" our favorite TV shows are. Founded in 1939, the Nielsen Company (formerly AC Nielsen) has been the principal entity tracking a TV show's popularity, and, by extension, it's potential profitability. But as our media consumption practices change, have Nielsen's methods kept pace? No, claims a new consortium which includes networks owned by NBC Universal, Time Warner, News Corp, Viacom, CBS, Discovery and Walt Disney, all calling for the creation of a new audience measurement service, and planning to solicit bids from outside firms. Nielsen says they're not worried about so many of their customers ganging up on them, having just invested more than one billion USD in research to stay modern. Except that today Nielsen announced they would pointedly NOT be adding weights to DVR households and that adding weights for the presence of a personal computer or Internet access in under-represented households would provide "no significant change or enhancement" to its national TV ratings sample. The pundits deride Nielsen's "archaic" methodology and "Disco-Era Tactics," but others scoff that such a consortium will only "put the foxes in charge of the henhouse".
Will stodgy-but-entrenched Nielsen retain it's Metrics Dominance? Or will it get knocked out by a slicker challenger? As they say on TV, "Stay Tuned..."
RobotRunAmok writes: A Voguecover girl has won a precedent-setting court battle to unmask an anonymous blogger who called her a "skank" on the Internet. In a case with potentially far-reaching repercussions, Liskula Cohen sought the identity of the blogger who maligned her on the "Skanks in NYC" blog so that she could sue him or her for defamation. A Manhattan supreme court judge ruled that she was entitled to the information and ordered Google, which ran the offending blog, to turn it over. Justice Joan Madden rejected the blogger's claim that the blogs "serve as a modern-day forum for conveying personal opinions, including invective and ranting", and should not be treated as factual assertions.
RobotRunAmok writes: A Maryland company under contract to the Pentagon is working on a steam-powered robot that would fuel itself by gobbling up whatever organic material it can find — grass, wood, old furniture, even dead bodies. It's called — wait for it — EATR, for Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot. The manufacturer, Robotic Technology, Inc., describes EATR's edge as "engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior." The diagram on the website's accompanying presentation show that the robot comes equipped with a gripping claw and a chainsaw. No, seriously.
RobotRunAmok writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is reporting that US President Barack Obama has invoked "state secrets" to prevent a court from reviewing the legality of the National Security Agency's warantless wiretapping program and moved late Friday to have a lawsuit challenging the program dismissed. In the case Jewel v. NSA, the EFF challenged what they decried as the spy agency's "dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans." Obama Justice has claimed in its motion that litigation over the wiretapping program would require the government to disclose the aforementioned and privileged "state secrets."